Elegant Deception

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Twenty Three

When we returned to the real world, in the comfort of the usual work routine, I saw a whole new perspective with life.

Early Monday morning, per usual, I was already by the reception desk when most of office managers and staff haven’t clocked in. I watched in anticipation, smiling each one in greeting as they passed by my desk until the right person arrived. Julian and Zoey exited the elevator on time with Albert, Greg, and Dean trailing behind them.

Once our eyes met, there was a brief twinkle in his eyes that matched what I felt. But no one noticed our exchange. Then I turned and watched as Julian and Zoey approached my desk. I straightened my posture, waiting for a quick exchange or greeting from them.

Julian was in front of the group. He halted by my desk, blocking the path to the office. He studied me for a bit before glancing behind him to Dean’s direction.

“So,” he started and dramatically paused. “What is it now between you two? I heard some things from my mother but…” he trailed off as Zoey grabbed his arm and gave him a cautious squeeze.

“Julian, don’t.” She warned.

“What? I was just asking an innocent question… well, Dean’s parents were talking about it with my mother…” he argued but failed miserably. He stopped talking when Zoey glared at him.

“Julian, don’t.” She said again with more authority.

“Right. Okay. I’m sorry.” He said to her rather than me.

Zoey gave him a little shove, telling him to move along. In slight embarrassment, she mouthed an apology to me before disappearing around the corner.

I peered back to Dean, who found his place by the small security booth beside the elevator, while Albert and Greg walked around the reception desk to take their respective seats beside me.

“What’s wrong with Dean?” I asked to no one in particular since I knew either of the two would reply.

And I was right. Greg answered. “Julian and him got in a slight argument this morning.”

I kept staring at Dean, waiting for him to look back in my direction. But he didn’t. “Really? What was it about?”

“You? Him? Work?”

“Why are you asking like you aren’t sure what they’re arguing? Weren’t you there?” I tore my gaze away from Dean and turned to Greg in confusion.

“Not really… We just overheard,” he sheepishly informed.

“You mean eavesdrop?”


“So you don’t actually know what they were arguing?”

Greg smiled innocently. On my other side, Albert sighed and gave in. “From what we heard, Dean and Julian were talking about you. And then Julian asked if Dean was officially taking the position as his head of security. But Dean’s only here for a temporary position.”

“What? He hadn’t told me this was only temporary.” I muttered in thought. “Then he’s leaving?”

“Soon, but not right away. His Uncle’s business partner is working on finding a better replacement for him. The only reason he got this job is that he and Julian are…”

I interjected, “yeah, I know. They’re childhood friends.”

“Right. And at that time, we really needed the extra security help.” Albert said. “However, as things slowly died down, Dean’s suppose to be replaced with someone who’d take the official position. Also, Dean insisted on giving me the position and only hiring another staff rather than someone to fill in as head of security, which Julian initially decided.”

“What? I thought you were head of security, Albert.”

He smiled at my compliment. “Thank you for thinking that I’m capable of such a position, my dear. But my credentials aren’t as impressive as Dean’s.”

I scoffed. “So what if you weren’t a detective or an FBI agent. You used to be a uniformed police officer in the state of New Jersey. That’s enough credentials for me, Albert.”

Greg jumped in and agreed as well. “You deserved that position, Albert. If Mr. Hawksley asked for a vote, I’ll be the first to lead that campaign for you.”

He smiled and shook his head in disbelief. “Well, I know my roots. However, it’s Mr. Hawksley decision who he hires and gives the position. I’m just grateful to be working and protecting the two most down-to-earth couple since my history of working in private security.”

In the middle of our heated conversation, Dean approached the reception desk. He stopped a couple of steps away, studying the three of us with a look of confusion. Greg stood and held his fist up like he was expressing an uprising, while Albert beside me was chuckling at his theatrics. I didn’t look amused like Albert or enthusiastic like Greg, which makes you question if I was even apart of their conversation.

“What are you two talking about? Are you bothering Amy again?” Dean asked and stared at Greg like he’s a guilty criminal.

Greg raised his hands in defeat. “I didn’t say anything unnecessary. I swear.”

Dean grinned and shook his head. “I’m not ratting you out, Greg. Just don’t bother Amy while she’s working… and if you’re pestering her about our relationship. Then yes, we are…” I didn’t let him finish and interjected.

“They know, Dean. It’s okay. They won’t bother me about it anymore.” I smiled in assurance.

Dean peered to Greg and Albert, who both didn’t say a word after that, and nodded. “Got it. Sorry.”

When Sean arrived for his morning shift, the conversation about Dean and I came up again. It was expected since I personally opened that conversation when I briefly told him the story. For my sake, Dean and Albert were gone with Mr. Hawksley by then. They were headed for a morning meeting with a partner.

It was unfortunate they didn’t bring Greg with them. Now I had to deal with these two questionings me about Dean. After the initial teasing, and storytelling about how we got together, Greg brought up Dean’s departure from the security team.

“Wait, he’s leaving? He was just hired.” Sean asked in shock.

“He was only hired for a temporary position since Julian and Albert really needed an extra hand after, you know, that incident,” Greg informed.

“So he’s leaving? When?” Sean pressed for more information.

“I’m not sure when though. Albert doesn’t tell me things about employment and stuff. Since he’s senior security staff, though only a week than I did, Mr. Hawksley trust him to handle who he let in. But with Dean’s case, he only got in easily because of his relationship with Julian, being that they were childhood friends.” Greg explained.

Sean looked in awe. “I still can’t believe they were childhood friends. I mean I knew those two had some sort of history. I never thought it would be childhood friends.”

“And Dean doesn’t like talking about it yet with…” he trailed off and met my gaze. “I wasn’t supposed to say anything further since I broke you the news earlier.” He said guiltily.

“Greg, what do you mean by that?”

“Okay. Okay.” He sighed in defeat. “Before Albert told you since I slipped, Dean had told us to keep it from you since he wanted to be the one to explain his transfer.”

“Transfer? Do you mean he’s going to be moving away from the city?”

Greg flinched when he spoiled yet another information about Dean. “God, Dean’s going to kill me for this.” He muttered in fear.

“Greg? What do you know?”

“I really don’t know anything, Amy. And if I keep on talking… I really like to be alive to see my daughter get married and have children.” He said in disdain.

I sighed and gave up pestering him.

Does it mean this will be a long-distance relationship? I remember how that happened last time. But this is Dean. I’m sure there’s more to this story. I hope.

I thought I won’t hear about my private life being a gossip at the office too soon. But to my dismay, the gossip did circulate that morning. Based on the guest list from the party last weekend, it was either Kyla or Rhea who spread the rumors. Zoey hardly indulged with office gossip unless I’m the one giving her the scoop. However, when I did confront them and asked nicely, neither of the two were the culprit.

It wasn’t until I made a short trip at the new general counsel’s office that I found the source of the rumors.

“Where the heck did you even hear about this, Steve?” I asked in disbelief.

And what surprised me was how easily he got acquainted with the rest of the office staff since he joined the team last week. I occasionally saw him wandering around the office, talking with the staff, and made a trip to my desk at the reception a few times - which was part of his job description to oversee operations. But I never guessed he was friendly enough to start exchanging gossips. I truly underestimated his extroverted personality.

Steve leaned back on his leather chair behind his glass desk, then shrug his shoulder. “I may have heard it from someone.”

I groaned. “Steve. Who was it?”

“Okay, sorry.” He sighed in defeat. “No one personally told me. I somehow eavesdrop on Mr. Hawksley and Zoey’s conversation about you and Dean when they arrived this morning. Then I connected the dots and asked around if it was already a known fact. After that, people started talking. You can’t blame me. I was just curious… sorry.” He abruptly apologized when he saw my expression.

“Next time. Ask me, Steve.” I warned.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was supposed to be a kept secret. As general counsel, I’m sure there was no law in the books about office romance. I mean, our own boss is marrying his secretary…” He trailed off in fear.

“Steve, if you spread rumors about Mr. Hawksley or Zoey to feed gossip in the office, I swear to god you won’t see tomorrow.” I icily threatened.

“I know that. Jeez... I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. I’ll stop doing my job, which is partly eavesdropping on people’s conversation and hear whether someone’s up to no good.” He lightly jested to ease up the tension.

“No. You keep doing that. But don’t share information outside the circle of trust, Steve.”

“And who’s the circle of trust?”

“Your closest friend here at the office. And our boss, Mr. Hawksley.”

“Does that mean we’re still friends after this?” He sheepishly asked.

I rolled my eyes, knowing I couldn’t hate the guy.

“Of course. But this is your last warning.”

“That’s a bit harsh. I could at least have a fair first offense warning,” he then met my stern gaze. “Okay, sorry. Last warning it is. It won’t happen again.” He mimed zipping his mouth for added effect.

I bit my lips to hide a smile and excused myself to get back to work.

I thought I have Greg and Sean to keep in check, now Steve’s in the mix. And here people say woman are a gossiping bunch. It sure wasn’t the case.

Thankfully, the gossip hadn’t gotten out of hand and people were done talking about it by the tomorrow. However, the conversation that Dean and I were supposed to be having never happened. And day after day, I waited for him to open up to me during our lunch and dinner dates. But after we returned to the office, or dropped me off my apartment, he ended it with a brief kiss and goodbye.

There were instances he looked like he was going to say something. I patiently for him to bring it up but he chickened out and found another topic to talk about.

Finally, after waiting for the rest of the week, I decided to bring it up myself. So on Friday evening, for our date night, I waited the last minute to ask. To my luck, the pavement in front of my apartment was quiet. There were hardly a handful of people were walking by across the street. It was a great atmosphere.

“Dean, when are you going to tell me you’re quitting and transferring somewhere else?” I asked.

Dean looked surprised by the question. “How did you know about that transfer?”

“So it’s true then? You’re moving away?” My repressed emotions slowly bubbling up.

“Wait, what? Moving away?” He abruptly shook his head and placed his helmet down. He then took my hand. “I’m not going anywhere, Amy. I’m staying right here, where you are.”

“Then, what is it? Greg told me you were transferring somewhere.” I muttered and busted Greg, who told me that information.

“So it was Greg. Figures.” He muttered in disbelief. He lightly squeezed my hand. “Amy, I’m not transferring away. It’s actually the other way around, or more like, I’m transferring here.”

“Wait, what do you mean?” Now I’m confused.

I didn’t realize I was crying when Dean reached up and lightly brushed away a stray tear. “What I mean is that last year, I had already filed in a transfer for the FBI Chicago field office. I’m not supposed to tell anyone about this since I’m not yet officially approved. However, I’ve gotten the call by the SA-in charge of the office about my transfer. And it seems like they have a position for me.”

“So that means, you’re not going away. Does that mean, you’re staying?”

“I did say, I am, Amy. I’m not going anywhere. Also, this transfer was like a year ago. Even if you never had taken me, I would still be here.” He lightly jested.

I playfully shoved him. “My god. You should have told me sooner about this. I’ve been thinking about it since Monday, you know.”

“Since Monday? You’ve been meaning to ask me about this since then?” He looked surprised, which made me question whether or not he was ever going to tell me.

“Yes. And I thought we were going to tell me about it soon. Was that not what you’re meaning to ask me these past few days? You looked like there was something important you want to ask me.”

He suddenly flushed in embarrassment. “Was I that obvious? And no. That’s not it. I wasn’t even bothered about that transfer. If I knew you were frustrated about that, I would have told you, Amy.”

“Then what was it you wanted to ask me?”

He shyly turned away, clearing his throat before peering back with a smoldering look. I was nearly weak in my knees. “Actually, I was wondering when would I meet your parents since, you know, you’ve already met mine. It’s fair, really, that I would meet your parents as well. Unless you don’t want too… or are you planning to have the meeting a little later than intended? I won’t mind though. However, I am ready to meet them. I’m confident that I’ll do better than when you met my mother…” he started babbling in thought.

I laughed. Surprised to hear that from him. Or maybe to hear that from a man who I just started dating. Maybe my old self, or any other man who’d be my partner, I would have thought differently. But this was Dean. And I’m confident this relationship wasn’t merely casual for both of us.

“Amy?” He asked when I only kept chuckling. “You know I’m not joking here. I’m hurt that you found this amusing.”

I reached around his waist and gave him a hug. “I know. And I’m sorry for laughing. It’s just…” I paused to lean away and meet his gaze. “if it was any other guy, I wouldn’t be having this conversation on the first week we finally got together. Let alone have him being the one who wanted to meet them. It’s just unexpected. Sorry.”

“I knew it. You aren’t ready for me to meet them. It’s okay, Amy. You don’t say it in a roundabout way.”

I shook my head. “No. I don’t mean it like that. I want you to meet them. How’s this Sunday sound?” I offered with a cheeky grin.

He leaned in and kissed my forehead. “You’re the best, Amy.”

Thank you so much for reading! Sorry, this took a while. I’ve been busy. Thank you for patiently waiting. Let me know what you think in the comments below. And I appreciate a like. Until next week’s update, have a lovely day!

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